Are transition corridors just the latest buzz word being thrown around in youth ministry? As a Youth Pastor, I can testify that this aspect of our ministry has become more and more important and the global pandemic, if anything, has exposed the short comings of not thinking about these transition corridors.

The traditional approach

So, what exactly do I mean when I talk about transition corridors? Well, how do we as youth pastors help young people transition in and out of our youth ministry programs? If you’re anything like me, you have probably always implemented the traditional approach. You’ve allowed the Grade 7’s to come to your church’s youth program in the fourth term and used the youth that are finishing matric to be new youth leaders.

However, Covid has caused me to stop and focus on this issue of transition.

For ages I’ve had a problem with the traditional approach. I’ll admit I’m not a traditionalist, but I’ve always found some excuse to stay in the rut. However, all the Covid restrictions has given me time to stop and think, causing me to ask, “Is this traditional approach still viable?”, or should we be moving more intentionally to a discipleship-based response? Yes, this traditional approach may have worked for years however, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught me not to become complacent with the status quo.

A shift in youth ministry thinking  

I have been reminded repeatedly that just because it worked before does not mean that it will always work. I believe we are moving into a vastly different season of youth ministry, not only because of the pandemic, but because we are seeing a shift in the thinking around youth ministry in general. Personally, the pandemic has exposed a few flaws in my thinking about these transitions in youth ministry. Covid has given me an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and say, “Things are a changing…” Just because we have always done it like that before does not mean we have to be stuck in the rut of flogging the dead horse that I know for myself that I tried for ages to revive.

Jesus used transition corridors

So, as you read this you may be asking, “Well Jordz, what program do we put into place to help young people transition both in and out of our youth program?” I think this is problem. There is no one program that will work. Programs, well at least in my humble opinion, are still the traditional approach.

If we just look at Jesus’ ministry, we see Jesus using transition corridors with His disciples. Mark 4:35-41 is the well-known story of Jesus calming the storm after having a nap in the front of the boat. Interestingly, you may or may not have noticed that Jesus was the instigator of getting the disciples to go to the other side of the lake (4:35).

Jesus took His disciples into the storm

Then again in Mark 6:45-52, after the disciples have witnessed this amazing miracle of feeding five thousand plus people, He sends them to the other side of the lake into the path of another storm, this time without Him present in the boat.

We all know the miracle of Jesus walking on the water and Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33).

One thing that has become evident to me as I look at these accounts. Jesus took His disciples through a transition corridor as he knew they would very soon have to cope without Him. Jesus helped His disciples through His relationship with them, do bigger and bigger things.

Walking with young people

So, in my mind a transition corridor is not just another program that you attach to your youth ministry, but rather it’s a change in thinking about what youth ministry should be accomplishing.

As I was doing some research about transitions in youth ministry, I came across the well-known research that young people moving from youth to adulthood is one of the biggest drop-out rates that the church faces. There are many reasons behind this, but I was shocked to look at the research and discover that there is one underlying aspect.

We are not taking the time to help young people transition to their next life stage.

I know that this is a bold statement. However, I know that I have been guilty of this thinking: “What program can I do… what new group can I start?” Instead of walking a road with those that I know are transitioning into their next life stage.

Disciple-makers

As I think about transition corridors, I keep coming back to Jesus’ ministry. Jesus took His disciples from a place where they did not know Him to a place of knowing Him. From a place of watching Him in ministry to helping Him with ministry. From a place of helping with ministry to a place of doing it by themselves while He watched. Then finally from Jesus watching them doing it by themselves and starting the process all over again with someone else.

Sounds a lot like disciples making disciples who make disciples does it not?

If we are serious about being disciple-makers in our ministry, we need to be thinking about relationships and helping those in our youth group transition to the next stages of their life and be disciple makers themselves.

Don’t do it all yourself

I would like to leave you with this thought: you do not have to disciple your whole youth group by yourself.

Part of discipleship is teaching others to do it. We all can recite the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, but how many of us are living this out? There are so many teens and young adults that we should be and need to be equipping to assist others to go through the same transition corridors they went through; ministry flows from relationships.  So, what’s your experience of disciplining teens and young adults through these transition corridors? And who are you empowering to assist not only the next generation, but the current generation as well?